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Review: Microsoft Surface Go 2

by : Jonny Lee on : 27 May 2020 11:17
Microsoft

The Surface Go 2 is Microsoft’s new tiny, low-cost, tablet/PC, that is great for anyone who needs to be productive, but doesn’t want to carry a heavier full-sized laptop.

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The original Surface Go is around two years old now, and Microsoft (quite rightly) decided that it was time for a refresh. The main and most obvious difference is the new, slightly bigger, 10.3-inch screen. It still looks sharp and fantastic, and to use as a touch screen it’s still brilliant. And while the screen size itself is bigger, the design of the Surface Go 2 basically hasn’t changed at all. Microsoft has simply shrunk the bezels a little bit to make space for more screen, and I’m a fan.

Let me just get this out of the way early. Microsoft is marketing this as a tiny, affordable PC which can be yours for the low low price of just £399! Yes… this is technically true. You can buy a base model Surface Go 2 for £399, but you absolutely shouldn’t. First up, if you want to use the Surface Go 2 as an actual computer you’re going to need a keyboard. And it does have an absolutely brilliant keyboard cover which is stylish, easy to attach, and fun to use.

At first it seems ridiculously small and kinda cramped, but the more I used it the more I loved it. Until finally I got to the point where I could use it just as well as any other keyboard. The keyboard cover, in my opinion, is essential if you’re going to buy a Surface Go. It also costs £100. Now we’re at £499 for the absolute base Surface Go 2 and a keyboard cover. So it’s still tiny, and most importantly, it’s still affordable.

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The model sent to me for review by Microsoft was the base Surface Go 2. Equipped with an Intel Pentium Gold 4425y, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. There is so much to love about this base model. It looks great. It’s super light and super portable. The Surface kickstand is still the absolute best kickstand I’ve ever used on any device ever. The keyboard cover is great, with it being so much better than the standard Apple one. But because of frustratingly slow performance, I just can’t recommend that people go out and buy the base model.

For anything other than browsing on Chrome with maybe 1 or 2 tabs open and very basic word processing, it’s going to struggle. I know this because for me it did struggle.

Going to put a YouTube video into full screen and there being a noticeable few seconds of lag before the video fills the screen really does not feel good. I’m the kind of person who likes to have a lot of tabs open at once when I’m surfing the internet and this base model Surface Go 2 just could not keep up with me at all. To its credit, it would just about play a YouTube video in 4k, but if you want to use it for any more power-intensive tasks at all like photo editing, the base model Surface Go 2 just straight up can’t.

The 64GB of eNNC storage is a shame too. For anyone unaware, eMMC storage is the type of storage found in memory cards, so as you’d expect, it’s not particularly fast. If you’re a super light PC user and think the base CPU is all you need I recommend at least bumping up to the 128GB SSD version with 8GB of RAM.

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I really wish Microsoft would have given a bit more love to the base model of this computer. Literally everything about it is brilliant and so easy for me to recommend, but the performance struggles really hold it down and make the £399 model very difficult to suggest to people looking for a new PC. By all accounts, the version with a faster Intel m3 CPU that costs £619 fixes the vast majority of these performance issues. And that is the one that people should buy.

The tiny size and portability is so appealing that all it needs is a good performance to back it up and it instantly becomes one of my favourite PCs ever. I found it so perfect to just easily pick up and watch a YouTube video when I had a bit of time, and if an email needed to be replied to I could simply flip the keyboard cover around and quickly type it out.

The form factor genuinely makes it fun to use. Other little positives that make the higher end model so easy to recommend are the good day-long battery life, which a device this portable really needs to have to be great, and a great 1080p webcam (which is appreciated right now more than ever). Also just having a tiny iPad sized tablet that runs Windows is super handy. iPads are great, but sometimes you really do just need that one app that simply isn’t available on Apple’s OS.

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There’s also an LTE model, but I didn’t have access to that so can’t comment on how good or bad that is. It does cost an extra £100 though.

All in all, I really am a massive fan of the Surface Go 2, the more expensive one. And while it is £619, plus the £100 for the essential keyboard cover. You are getting a really great handy little PC for that price. It still just about falls into the affordable category. If you can’t quite afford that, the £529 version with the upgraded storage and memory isn’t a bad choice if your daily PC usage is very light. I just wish I could recommend the £399 base version as highly as I can the top-spec version.

I get that Microsoft wanted to keep the price down, but compared to the base model of the original Surface Go very little is different. It is a shame and I can only hope that for the Surface Go 3, Microsoft decides to spec out the cheapest model a little bit.

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Topics: Technology, Microsoft, Review, Surface Go 2, UNILAD Tech